Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stock Up On Sriracha

Residents of the small town of Irwindale, CA have filed a motion in Los Angeles County Court this Monday against Huy Fong Foods, maker of what's become one of the world's most popular table side condiments, Sciracha.

Claiming the factory's odors have become a public nuisance, Irwindale City Attorney Fred Galente will be asking the court to force Huy Fong Foods to close until the smell can be controlled.

While Fred Galente and plaintiffs allege the order has been a long time coming, it comes suspiciously on the heels of an article by Roberto A. Ferdman that went viral exactly one week earlier.

In it, Ferdman opened up some of David Tran's less conventional business practices, namely that Tran's three decade hot sauce venture only vaguely resembles the successful business that it is.

Uninterested in profit, Tran shuns marketing strategies and advertising gimmicks. Sriracha has become a global staple as synonymous with ketchup solely by word of mouth.

He harvests locally and bottles fresh. Tran's private company doesn't answer to shareholders asking him to pack his products with preservatives. It's solely controlled by its inventor. When Tran immigrated to the United States from Vietnam, he wanted a spicy sauce for his noodle soup that reminded him of home, and then wanted to share it with the world.

In an industry unethically lobbying against GMO labels and organic farming, Huy Fong Foods may be the world's most successful provider of the kind of ingredients we all want.

Well, no good deed goes unpunished.

Irwindale is a small town that has been absorbed into the massively sprawling Los Angeles metropolis. Complaints about the factory aren't surprising. Had this motion been filed years ago, months ago, even weeks ago, it would seem believable that a factory that processes billions of chili peppers a year might truly be burning the eyes of neighbors.

But it wasn't filed months ago, it was filed one week after Ferdman inadvertently, perhaps regrettably, told the world and Tran's neighbors just how much cash one man was sitting on.

Sriracha hopefully won't be going away, but a temporary halt in production could raise its price. But you may want to stock up. Tran is a curious and accidental businessman, one resistant to publicity. If no one else knows his recipe and he decides to close shop out of frustration, we're all back to smothering our inedible cheesesteaks in ketchup and Tabasco.

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